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Project Baseline's top 10 2019 moments and 2020 predictions

| Written by:
Tina Karimi

Tina Karimi

Contributing Editor, Verily

Double down was one of the 200-year old Collins Dictionary's top words of the year for 2019. Doubling down – "reinforcing one's commitment to an idea" – also feels fitting for this year at Project Baseline.

Together with participants from all walks of life, Project Baseline was created to shed light on little-understood health areas – much as centuries of exploration yielded an accurate map of the world. With new science and technology, we hope to move faster and create a map of human health that has the potential to impact humanity within our lifetimes.

2019 was a year of doubling down on this vision to further define that map. As the year comes to a close, we're counting down some of the Project Baseline community's most memorable moments. We also asked industry leaders: what are your predictions for healthcare, and Project Baseline's role, in 2020?

10. Expanding the map of human health

Heart disease is America's greatest health threat, and a core focus for Project Baseline. Research Goes Red, our collaboration with the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement, launched this year to improve women's representation in heart research. Research Goes Red was followed by the Heart Biomarker Study, an initiative to advance research around Lp(a), an emerging key risk factor for heart disease.

Along with heart research, we significantly expanded Project Baseline's map to include sleep, gut, and mood research. We look forward to learning even more in 2020!

9. Announcing the Baseline Platform and Health Systems Consortium

Driving meaningful change in research requires partnering across the healthcare ecosystem. The new Baseline Health System Consortium is focused on improving collaboration across key healthcare stakeholders, including top academic medical centers and healthcare systems, to address shared challenges in research.

We also announced strategic alliances with top biopharmaceutical organizations to develop innovative, patient-centered research programs using the Baseline Platform. The Baseline Platform is designed to improve research participation and collect richer data – including outside of a clinical setting.

8. Convening the Project Baseline Advisory Board

Along with forging connections across healthcare, we want to ensure that a broad spectrum of perspectives is represented within Project Baseline. In 2019, we convened an Advisory Board representing patient advocates, ethicists, and leaders in science, public health, and research. Take a look back at Dr. Reed Tuckson's insights on healthcare collaboration, evolving health data, and enabling participant-centered research from Project Baseline's first Advisory Board.

7. Celebrating the Project Baseline Health Study

Project Baseline's first research initiative, the Health Study, turned two years old in 2019. Study teams and participants nationwide gathered to mark this milestone, enjoying a day of sharing reflections, making connections, and having fun!

Participants shared their dreams for the future of the Health Study, which was created to better understand disease by collecting rich data from diverse participants over the course of four years.

Dreams for the Health Study included:

  • Find a cure and help prevent diseases
  • Provide better understanding of human health
  • Help advance health for all diverse groups
  • Help me be on top of my health
  • Detect health issues before they become serious
  • Discover valid patterns that lead to cure

6. Taking Project Baseline on the road

Project Baseline crossed the country this year to share insights on making research more accessible. Notably, we discussed empowering people to own their health data at Austin's South by Southwest, keeping patients informed at Patients as Partners in Philadelphia, and closing the gap between research and care at HLTH in Las Vegas.

5. Meeting the Project Baseline team

Project Baseline is a collaboration that brings together many different groups – including researchers, clinicians, engineers, designers, patient advocates, participants, and more – to better understand human health.

This year, we introduced the world you to some of the key members of the Project Baseline team. Each contributes an essential piece of our mission, from analyzing health data to ensuring that our tools and technologies meet participants' needs. Get to know some of the people who make Project Baseline a reality:

4. Participants tangibly advancing science

Within Project Baseline, participants and researchers collaborate to make data better and more actionable. Driven by participant feedback on the precision of daily step counts, the Project Baseline data team was able to update a motion-tracking algorithm to improve accuracy. Using machine learning, this algorithm is designed to analyze and derive insights from data, helping researchers establish what "normal" movement really looks like.

3. Returning results

Typically, research participants have limited visibility into study outcomes and how their data are used in research. This is where Project Baseline comes in. We're thinking through how to return data thoughtfully, ethically, and responsibly – all while exploring what it means to conduct truly human-centric research.

This year, we returned detailed reports of Health Study participants' individual physical fitness data, as well as genetic information.

2. Spotlighting real research participants

One of the greatest highlights of our year is getting to know our participants, known within our community as Baseline Explorers. This year, we got to meet Nor and Trell, advocates for human health research.

We also met a number of Baseline Explorers who shared why research matters – both to individual participants, and the world that benefits from scientific advancement. Check out their stories on YouTube.

1. Building community

Realizing the promise of research hinges on partnering with participants. We're thrilled to see the vibrancy and engagement of the Project Baseline community as the initiative grows. None of this would be possible without the work of our participants and study teams.

Looking forward to 2020, we asked our team: how do you see Project Baseline, and healthcare, evolving in the year to come?

"Getting potentially life-saving treatments to the people that need them hinges on connecting science to people's daily lives, in a way that's seamless and easy for them. In the coming year, we aim to break down traditional barriers to joining and participating in studies.

With the expansion of Project Baseline to new health areas, we're learning about how we can reduce the complexity of navigating research to help people access the opportunities they need. We're also continuing to focus on enabling people to generate scientific data in real-world settings – whether by wearing unobtrusive sensors, or participating from the comfort of their own homes."

- Casimir Starsiak, Product Lead

"Growing the community and ecosystem of Project Baseline is critical to engaging real people in research. Earlier this year, we announced the Project Baseline Health Systems Consortium, an effort to identify the biggest challenges in research. In 2020, the consortium will explore the use of new tools and technology to improve research broadly, including better matching of participants and clinicians with research opportunities. We also look forward to building on our partnerships with patient advocacy groups and industry-leading life sciences organizations to establish important research initiatives driven by the patient voice."

- Ashley Moulton, Engagement Lead

"The Baseline Health Study is an incredibly diverse cohort that includes both healthy people and people at various stages of disease. As we begin to evaluate the relationship between digital biomarkers and health and disease, I think we may find that the digital signal has different value and different meaning in healthy people, particularly younger, healthier people, versus older people with greater disease burden."

- Dave Miller, Head of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

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